“The dog is me, of course—I always think I’m the smartest one on the block,” declares Harlan Ellison, while sharing a trove of insights and stories about A Boy And His Dog in Tasha Robinson’s interview for The Dissolve.
A new Blu-Ray edition is the occasion for reminiscing about the classic story and the movie based on it. Ellison also answers questions about how the first story fits into a projected novel, and the chances for a sequel to the film.
The Dissolve: L.Q. Jones has been talking for decades about the possibility of a direct sequel to the film Boy And His Dog, but with a female protagonist. Would you want to be involved in that?
Ellison: Well, I own the rights to it. How it will be done, I do not know. L.Q. owns the original film. I made very little money off it, although it continues to be and has been, for decades, one of the top five rentals for film societies and colleges—they show it constantly. And it’s been ripped off, and reissued, and on DVDs, though nothing like this incredible Blu-ray Shout! Factory has done, which restores its original, vivid, stark, adept original incarnation.
So this becomes a question of who offers us the most money, because like all storytellers, I sit around the campfire with my turban out and say, “Here’s Vic and Blood and the third leg of this love triangle, a female rover called Spike, the dominant figure in the two-thirds of the book that make up Blood’s A Rover.” When someone comes along, the storyteller says, “And the hero is hanging by his fingertips from the rotting edge of the chasm, and below him, the snakes and vipers and crocodiles are all snapping. You want to know what happened to him, put a few drachma in my turban.” And when someone crosses my palm with the right amount of silver, I will release the screenplay, which is already written and ready to go, and they may either remake A Boy And His Dog, which would involve L.Q., or just make the sequel. This all is up in the air. It’s all ready to go and everything that can be made is under option and everything that I own that’s ready to go, is waiting here for the right golden mouth to open.
Ellison also explains the dog’s name —
This story, I wrote to please my dog, Abu. I really did. This section,“A Boy And His Dog,” which was made into the movie, is only the center section of a very long novel called Blood’s A Rover, from the A.E. Housman poem [“Reveille”]. That’s why the telepathic dog is called Blood.
I remember Ellison on stage at the 1975 NASFiC challenging anybody in the (sizeable) audience to explain why he’d given the dog that name. No one could. And we called ourselves readers! Although I no longer remember exactly what he said afterwards, the message imprinted on me was that I must read beyond the borders of sf, for I would never fully understand sf itself unless I did.